Very soon, we will introduce you to the new Project RACE Teens National Panelists, an impressive group of teen advocates working with Project RACE to make a difference for multiracial people, the fastest growing racial demographic in the United States. The panelists will be contributing in a number of ways. Consider this book review from one of our awesome National Panelists, Tommy McManus, a little sneak peak. - Kelly
The Color of Water was written in 1996 by James McBride and is in honor of his deceased mother, Ruth. The novel switches between two narrators: James who narrates and his mother, through her journal entries. McBride tries to show the similarities and differences between the present and the past through his and his mother’s experiences.
The Color of Water explores the ways in which Americans perceive and react to religious and racial differences. Ruth narrates her life as a child, growing up in a poor white Jewish family in Suffolk, Virginia. She tells us how her family is very dysfunctional while she was growing up, as her older brother ran away when he was fifteen, and her father sexually abused her. Even after promising her sister that she wouldn’t leave her, Ruth soon realizes after graduation that if she doesn’t leave then, she never will. With that, Ruth leaves for New York where she gets a job with her Aunt, and soon meets her future husband, James’s father Dennis, who is African American.
After being disowned by her family for leaving, Ruth converts to Christianity and becomes very involved in church activities. Even though over the next few years she experienced intense amount of prejudice, she recalls those three years as the happiest times of her life. Later she and Dennis start their own church in their apartment, and Dennis becomes a preacher until he dies a little before James is born. Ruth raises James and the rest of her multiracial kids through her new beliefs of Christianity and as a part of the African American community.
This weaves into James’s story perfectly. James describes the hardest times of his life. As a kid, James’s biggest worry was when his mother was unable to pick him up at the bus stop. However, as he grew up, his problems started to evolve. When James grew up with his stepfather, he had someone to look up to, but once he passed away, James really started to slip up. He started getting mixed up with a bad group of kids, and as a result he became addicted to drugs and got involved in a life of crime. After his mother shipped him off to be with his sister in Louisville, James started to realize what he needed to do in order to get his life back on the right path. He became a dedicated student and attended Oberlin College.
This novel shows the similarities between every human being, and the dangers of racial segregation and religious prejudice. McBride goes on about how there is no difference between people of different races or religions. I give this book a 9 out of 10 because I love the rotation of narrators, and I believe that in addition to teaching tolerance, The Color of Water teaches the reader to be kind and always push yourself to succeed.
- Tommy McManus, National Panelist, Project RACE Teens